Coexpression of delta-opioid receptors with micro receptors in GH3 cells changes the functional response to micro agonists from inhibitory to excitatory

Andrew C. Charles, Natalya Mostovskaya, Kathleen Asas, Christopher J. Evans, Megan L. Dankovich, Tim G. Hales

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51 Citations (Scopus)


GH3 cells show spontaneous activity characterized by bursts of action potentials and oscillations in [Ca 2+]i. This activity is modulated by the activation of exogenously expressed opioid receptors. In GH3 cells expressing only micro receptors (GH3MOR cells), the micro receptor-specific ligand [D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4,Gly5-ol]-enkephalin (DAMGO) inhibited spontaneous Ca 2+ signaling by the inhibition of voltage-gated Ca 2+ channels, activation of inward-rectifying K+ channels, and inhibition of adenylyl cyclase. In contrast, in cells expressing both micro and delta receptors (GH3MORDOR cells), DAMGO had an excitatory effect on Ca 2+ signaling that was mediated by phospholipase C and release of Ca 2+ from intracellular stores. The excitatory effect of DAMGO was also inhibited by pretreatment with pertussis toxin. Despite the excitatory effect on Ca 2+ signaling, DAMGO inhibited Ca 2+ channels and activated inward-rectifying K+ channels in GH3MORDOR cells, although to a lesser extent than in GH3MOR cells. Long-term treatment with the delta receptor-specific ligand [D-Pen2,D-Pen5]-enkephalin reduced the excitatory effect of DAMGO in the majority of GH3MORDOR cells and restored the inhibitory response to DAMGO in some cells. The inhibitory effect of somatostatin on Ca 2+ signaling was not different in GH3MORDOR versus GH3MOR cells. These results indicate that interaction between micro- and delta-opioid receptors causes a change in the functional response to micro ligands, possibly by the formation of a micro/delta heterodimer with distinct functional properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Analgesics, Opioid/pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Barium/metabolism
  • Calcium/metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling/drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophysiology
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-/pharmacology
  • Enkephalin, D-Penicillamine (2,5)-/pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology
  • Estrenes/pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pertussis Toxin/pharmacology
  • Pyrrolidinones/pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta/metabolism
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu/metabolism
  • Somatostatin/pharmacology
  • Thapsigargin/pharmacology
  • Transfection


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